communities. They host weddings, funerals and many of the most important events of our lives. In addition, they often provide space for a variety of social service activities and community organizations such as day care centers, support groups, soup kitchens, and more. Many are historic structures and architectural gems.
When such a place burns, it hurts so many. NFPA recently released a new report, U.S. Structure Fires in Religious and Funeral Properties, by Richard Campbell. During 2007-2011, an estimated average of 1,780 structure fires were reported in these properties, causing an annual average of two civilian deaths, 19 civilian fire injuries, and $111 million in direct property damage. Only 4% were in funeral parlors.
Cooking equipment was the leading cause of these fires, followed in equal numbers by fires caused by heating equipment and intentionally set fires. Sprinklers were present in only 12% of these fires.Places of worship are an unusual kind of public assembly occupancy. Most have very few paid staff. Members volunteer their time and skills to cook for functions and maintain and repair the property, just like they would at home. Many home fire safety tips would apply here as well. Property managers and religious leadership can find additional fire safety information in NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship. Comprehensive safety information for reducing the risk of fire and promoting fire safety in buildings of all types is available in NFPA 101: Life Safety Code®.